Investors who have a more optimistic outlook appear to be better prepared for retirement, Fidelity said. Eighty-three percent of optimists are more likely to expect a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, versus 61% of pessimists.

And with only 33% of optimists afraid that Social Security benefits will be eliminated or reduced, compared with 45% of pessimists, they are also not held back as much by fear of risks.

If they are married, 61% of pessimists are unsure they will be able to assume full financial responsibility for their household if necessary, compared with only 39% of optimists who have this worry.

Interestingly, only 15% of pessimists have completed a detailed income plan to help guide their finances in retirement, compared with 27% of optimists who have done so.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 husbands and wives in Fidelity’s “2009 Couples Retirement Study.” Respondents characterized themselves as either an optimist or pessimist and then answered questions about retirement readiness, planning and lifestyle expectations.

Going into the study, Fidelity expected to see that the more afraid and pessimistic people were about their retirement, they would be more inclined to take corrective action, rather than be immobilized by their fear.

Certainly, when asked about their initial reaction to the recent market volatility, 22% of pessimists report “feeling a sense of panic and wanting to pull out of the market.” By comparison, only 11% of optimists said they felt this way.

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